You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not forget that it’s almost time for your family’s elf (or elves?!) to return! If your kids are anything like mine they have been counting down the elf on the shelf arrival for MONTHS, and the anticipation of how their elves will arrive is always a hot topic!
Now is the time for all the moms to frantically begin searching for the perfect arrival idea! Lucky for you- I have all the best and unique elf on the shelf arrival ideas for toddlers or any aged-kids, compiled right here in this post!
Also, grab your FREE printable Elf welcome letter here so your child can read all about their new elf coming to visit.
This post may contain affiliate links, of which I would receive a small compensation should you purchase something.
When Does the Elf on the Shelf Come?
The Elf on the Shelf is a silly little dude, and he arrives whenever he wants! Some make their appearance on Thanksgiving night, while others appear on December 1st.
If he doesn’t arrive by early December, you better write a letter to Santa to find out where your little dude is! Your elf heads back to the North Pole with Santa on Christmas Eve, so make sure your kids say goodbye until next year.
Related Post: How does the Elf on the Shelf Work?
Elf on the Shelf Pre-Arrival Ideas
Need a few extra days to prepare for the arrival of your funny little Christmas friend? Here are a few “pre-arrival” ideas that are sure to have your kids excited and anticipating the big day!
This Elf on the Shelf pre-arrival idea is one of the best! When your little ones find elf footprints in the house they will be looking all over for this mysterious Christmas friend who has been sneaking around.
The elf has came – but where is he hiding? This is also a good reminder that your elf is always watching (even when you can’t see him!) Get your own set of elf footprint stencils here.
Are your kids anticipating the arrival of their elf friend? Have your elf send a postcard from their current location! The kids will be so excited to hear from their elf, and it will give you a few extra days to prepare! Read more about this idea here.
Elves can be messy little house guests! If your kids are counting down the days until your elf arrives, and you are just not quite ready (or you want to build the anticipation) a few carefully crafted mysterious messes will have everyone searching for their little friends!
The ideas can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish, but here are a few fun ideas:
- A message written into the mirror or window
- A few books left out where they are not normally
- A flour angel on the counter
- A message written in M&Ms
- Toilet paper on the Tree
Also, if you have floral wire, you can push the wire up into the limbs of your elf to help mold his body better.
My Favorite Elf on the Shelf Arrival Ideas
Whether you are looking for something simple or you are ready to go all out with your elf’s arrival this year – I have you covered! These Elf on the Shelf Arrival ideas have something for everyone!
1. Delivery in a Balloon
This is a great idea from Shore Balloons. Have your elf arrive in style if you’re local to the Jersey shore. Either way, you can make this on your own or find a local balloon artist to create it for you.
To DIY this same look, grab a 20″ clear balloon and you can blow up Elf inside there yourself!
2. Coming in on Parachute
Scout Elves show up in style with this one-of-a-kind play parachute!
3. Skiing Down the Slopes
All you need is some wrapping paper, a lot of cotton, and paper plates. I love this idea!
4. On a Reindeer
Set up your reindeer inside before you put them in your yard and have your elves come in riding them!
5. Packaged Straight from the North Pole
This elf didn’t waste any time at all- arriving directly from the North Pole in a postmarked box and snow to complete the whole magical feel. You can tell by the tiny footprints that the elf wasn’t able to patiently wait on the kids to wake up, but he did at least crawl back into the box before morning!
While flour will definitely do the trick in terms of snow- If you really want to step up your game you can buy some of this magical snow to really make the morning exciting or DIY fake snow with this easy tutorial.
6. Bringing “Snow-nuts”
7. Flying in on a Paper Airplane
This simple elf on the shelf arrival idea has it all! Simplicity and excitement! Your kids will love running into the family room to find their favorite Christmas friend suspended in the air on a magical elf airplane!
8. Coming via Hot Air Balloon
If you want to step up your game just a bit, an arrival in a hot air balloon may do just the trick! You can even use some of these festive Christmas hot air balloon lanterns to tie the whole look together!
Something about balloons and these magical little elves just go together. Imagine the surprise on your little one’s faces when they wake up to find their elf floating across the room tied to a beautiful balloon bouquet!
10. Riding in on a Sleigh
11. With a North Pole Breakfast
Who wouldn’t want to wake up to a North Pole breakfast surprise?! The possibilities for this elf on the shelf arrival are endless.
12. Inside a Balloon
This time the elf comes in with a BANG! For real! Your little one will have to pop the balloon to rescue their elf on arrival day!
Your child may want to take it as an opportunity to show their elf around the house, or give a little hug while the elf is protected by the balloon! Making for a fun arrival bonus surprise!
Here is another easy elf arrival idea! All you need is your elf, some tape and something to write with! Your kids will be so excited to see their magical Christmas elf back for the season in such a silly way!
You simply cannot go wrong with Christmas lights! Use the lights to light up a runway for your Christmas Scout elf, and watch the delight in your child’s eyes as they find their elf has finally arrived!
15. Spell it out for them – With Treats
This arrival idea is perfect! Allow your elf to arrive with a small packet of magical dust allowing your little one to touch their elf for the very first time!
This magical dust will ensure that your child can touch the elf without any harm, and will give your little one the chance to hug their elf tight! This will be an arrival that will not soon be forgotten!
Another simple and fun idea- with very little props. All you need is your elf and some paper (and of course your Christmas tree!)
Have your elf land in the Christmas tree after a very long trip from the north pole! For fun you can also do a crash landing!
If you have a Christmas Wreath, this elf arrival idea would be simply perfect. Just place your elf inside the wreath and see how long it takes your little one to notice that their elf has arrived!
19. In a Package
20. On a Balloon Carousel
This is quite extravagant, but if you love making balloon arches and decor, this may be for you!
21. Trying to get in
22. Shady’s Back
Your little one’s may not understand, but you’ll get a chuckle!
23. Straight Outta Quarantine
Although in 2023, we shouldn’t be too worried about quarantines, this may still be a funny choice.
This hilarious elf on the shelf arrival idea would be perfect for the parent who would like an easy two weeks of elf hosting! Under strict guidance of the Department of Elf Magic, all elves must quarantine upon arrival for two weeks!
24. Scaling the Wall with a Candy Cane Rope
25. Bringing Back a Melted Snowman
Your kids will love this Elf on the Shelf arrival with sugar cookies; they’re adorable and yummy. Put the cookies on a platter with the Elf sitting in the middle.
Here is one Elf on the Shelf arrival that your kids will definitely think is hilarious – a snowball fight.
If you don’t want to make this arrival, you can still make it be one of the crazy activities that your silly elf gets into throughout the month.
28. Special Delivery
Looking for something last minute or super simple? This special delivery arrival will be exactly what you need!
Grabbing an envelope from the post office and writing the words on front are all that you will need. Your kids will be delighted to find their elf arriving in such a fun way!
Maybe, your Elf on the Shelf arrival will bring with it a random act of kindness as a Secret Santa.
Your elf arrives with some candy or a few small gifts that you need to put on someone else’s doorstep. This is such a fun way to start off the season and enjoy giving throughout the month.
30. Wrapped in Wrapping Paper or Christmas Box
Surprise! Your kids will be so excited to wake up and find such a fun gift just for them! It looks like the elf was excited in this photo as well- he just simply couldn’t stay wrapped up a second longer!
This simple elf on the shelf arrival idea is sweet and straight to the point. Nevertheless, your kids will be so surprised to wake up and find their elf in such a predicament!
With a few scraps of wrapping paper, scissors and some tape, you have the perfect elf arrival idea! Your children will find it quite comical to find their elf trying to surprise them by wrapping up in the wrapping paper!
Simple Elf on a Shelf Arrival Ideas
Sometimes you just need something SIMPLE – whether December 1st just crept up on you, or you have a zillion things on your list, and coming up with an elaborate plan is just the last thing you want to do.
Try one of these super simple Elf on a Shelf arrival ideas to save the day!
This idea is just PERFECT! No mess and no fuss. A cute little door that “magically” appeared that your elf can walk on through. Here is a great DIY option, but if you would like one already made you can grab one here.
In December, who needs one more thing to add to their list? This Elf on a Shelf arrival idea checks two things off your list in one simple swoop!
Simply set your elf out with the advent calendars and there you go! Need ideas for Advent Calendars? Try one of these!
A super simple way to begin the Christmas Advent season! Prop your elf up with a simple gift. Done and Done! These elf pets would be a great addition to any elf family!
Your Elf can arrive with a new little book for your child. This is a super simple and easy Elf on a Shelf Arrival idea – that also gives you a fun activity for Advent!
What better way for your elf to arrive than with a set of Christmas PJs for the season? This is an awesome tradition to start! If you want to be even more festive – have your elf arrive in his own set of PJs!
Elaborate Elf on The Shelf Arrival Ideas
Have you had an elf for years and need some new ideas? Just getting started with your elf and want to start with a bang? Here are some elaborate Elf on the Shelf Arrival ideas just for you!
Why not start off with a bang. Your Elf can arrive with any kind of fun trick or mischief you can think up! Need some ideas? Try one of these:
17 Naughty Elf on the Shelf Ideas (warning a couple of these may be inappropriate for the little ones but parents and teens will get a kick out of them!)
One of the best things about elves is the hunt! Why not make it even more elaborate with a fun elf on the shelf scavenger hunt arrival?!
Banners are always a fun way to celebrate! Plus you can use a banner over and over again! You can DIY a Banner or grab one from Etsy here.
Let your elf arrive in STYLE this Christmas with a fun Elf sized motorcycle! You can grab this one from etsy – or choose any small barbie/action figure sized motorcycle that you may already have on hand!
Who says your elf has to arrive in the morning? If the kids are away for a bit, have them arrive back home to an elaborate elf pizza party! Elves and Pizza?
Adding this fun Elf-sized Pizza, Pizza Box, and Elf outfit will make the party even more elaborate!
Could there be anything cuter than these elf-sized cookie cutters? Your elf on the shelf could arrive with an elaborate spread of elf and human-sized cookies!
Hilarious Elf on Shelf Arrival Ideas
Who isn’t a fan of Buddy the Elf? Have your Christmas guest arrive with a hilarious reference to Buddy himself!
All you need are a few ingredients and a child with a big sweet tooth! Get the recipe on this blog!
A twist on the elf welcome breakfast – this Elf on a Shelf Arrival Idea will have everyone laughing! Have your elf arrive with an amazing MINI sized breakfast.
The Its Girls has a fun idea for mini pancakes shown above, but you could serve any variety of fun mini breakfast items!
Do you feel like you have used every Elf on the Shelf arrival idea you can think of? Never fear. Your elf on the shelf can arrive with a FAMILY!
These hilarious new additions to your elf family are sure to bring a smile to your child’s face!
Your Elf just can’t be contained! Your kids will love seeing their elf arrive busting right out of the box! Idea found here.
Another hilarious Elf on the Shelf arrival idea! Arriving with bags packed! Your kiddo will absolutely love the tiny suitcases! Plus knowing your elf is here to stay awhile is a great feeling!
Don’t forget to grab your FREE printable Elf welcome letter here so your child can read all about their new elf coming to visit.
I hope that you are able to find an elf on the shelf arrival idea that will be perfect for you and your family this year! If you still need some help with your elves check out this list of elf names, and these fun last minute elf on the shelf ideas!